World Cup of Darts first round: England, Belgium, Aussies feature
Ahead of the opening night of the World Cup of Darts in Germany, Frankfurt, Coral writers preview the action that features 16 of the 32 nations on Thursday.
We have picked out the main clashes of the evening, including title-favourites England (13/8), and past runners-up Belgium and Australia (both 25/1).
England v Denmark
World Cup winners in 2012 and 2013 Phil Taylor and fellow Stoke-born star Adrian Lewis will team up once again in their bid to reclaim the trophy, after being whitewashed in last year’s final 3-0 by the Netherlands.
England (1/12 favourites) have an easier run to the final this time than their Dutch counterparts, and kick off against Denmark (6/1), who have only ever won twice at the finals.
The Power and Lewis have triumphed 5-0 in their last two opening fixtures at World Cups, so are tempting 9/2 shouts to do so once more.
Australia v Russia
Runners-up in 2012, the Aussies have reached at least the semis in three of the four World Cups to date, and Simon Whitlock and Newcastle-born Paul Nicholson will link up once again.
Russia (3/1) will certainly be up against it when facing Australia (2/9), but managed to get one leg on the board last time out against Scotland, so take odds of 4/1 for the latter to triumph 5-1 too.
Belgium v Philippines
Huybrechts half-brothers Kim and Ronny were surprise runners-up in 2013 for Belgium, after knocking out then-third seeds Australia in the second round.
They start their 2015 campaign off against the Philippines (11/4), who have never won at a World Cup, and are heavy 1/4 odds-on favourites.
Huybrechts junior, Kim, continued his rise in the game by being picked to play in the prestigious Premier League Darts this year, although came last, but will be looking to inspire his nation to success. Belgium are 10/3 for a 5-2 victory.
Gibraltar v Italy
The only other British interest on the first day comes from tiny oversees territory Gibraltar (4/6), who are situated on the south coast of Spain. Despite having a total population of 30k, they have been seeded 13th, so Dyson Parody and Manuel Vilerio will be spurred on in their match against Italy (11/10).
Darts mad nation Gibraltar have yet to win at a World Cup, but have been involved in some close battles before. Back them at 9/2 to triumph 5-4.
Spain v Norway
Gibraltar’s bitter rivals Spain kick off the competition, and have a genuine chance to cause a shock and go far. They have been given a tough quarter, though, with Belgium and Australia in their way.
Spain will be hoping to emulate their shock in the very first World Cup, when they knocked out top seeds England in just the second round, before then reaching the semis, beating Gary Anderson’s Scotland along the way.
Cristo Reyes will be leading the line for the Iberians (4/9) this year, and the 27-year-old, who defeated Wes Newton and Kevin Painter in the 2015 World Championship, should have enough quality to help his side past Norway (13/8). Spain are 4/1 to win 5-3.
Other matches on the night involves an all-Asia tie between Japan (2/5) and China (7/4), while Austria (2/7) and hosts Germany (1/5) could meet in the second round if they see off respective opponents Czech Republic (5/2) and India (10/3).
If Austria and Germany were to duel, it would be an interesting occasion, as two of the sports’ most promising youngsters Rowby-John Rodriguez (21-years-old) and Max Hopp (18) would meet.
Betting tip – England beat Denmark 5-0 @ 9/2